Saturday, January 26, 2013


We begin this week with Exciting! E-Mail reading! Action! aka the only thing Ellanjay loves more than Exciting! Phone Call! Action! As you probably guessed, there's nothing really notable except they receive one from Carl (whom I picturing as Carl Carlson from The Simpsons) who confirms that Chris Traickin is a mole. They wonder how he managed to fake a Zod-mark (and I'm wondering the same thing). I'm also wondering just what was the point of this whole Chris Traickin thing; there doesn't seem to be any payoff in sight and I can't help but feel that Ellanjay are just padding out their page count. Padding in an Ellanjay novel? Surely, you jest.

Meanwhile Vicki and the others are walking around in the woods discussing the Tennessee Believers.

“I’d say about nine out of ten people I talked with had gone to church before the disappearances,” Conrad said. “Some of them were even regular attenders.”

“Why didn’t they believe?” Vicki said.

Conrad shrugged. “I guess you have to do more than just show up. God offers a gift, but you still have to receive it.” Conrad asked Vicki about Omer.

Vicki explained how they had met and what had kept him from believing. “Some people are stubborn. Others have pet sins they don’t want to give up. But I think a lot of people have never seen anyone have a real relationship with God.”

Ah, the old "You have to have a relationship with God" clause and of course that whole relationship thing is so nebulously defined that even if you pray and attend church every Sunday, you can still be guilt-stricken about whether your in favor with God or not. Also, remember if you don't accept the Truth! it's because you enjoy sinning you dirty, dirty sinner, not because you have different ideas as to the nature of God.

Vicki's section ends with them noticing a white serial killer GC van heading for them, but given that the GC couldn't find their dick with two hands and a map, I'm not worried. I'm sure this will come to nothing, just like all their previous run-ins.

Now back to Judd in New Babylon...Well those of you who were dying to know what ethnicity Kweesa Darjonelle is (ethnic characters always have screamingly obvious "ethnic" names in Ellanjayland), you can relax. Apparently she's described as having a "heavy African accent." Note that Ellanjay can't be bothered to say which of Africa's 54 countries she's from; they just commited the common fallacy of treating Africa, which is a continent made up of 54 countries, like a monolithic nation. But anyway, nothing really happens in that section except Kweesa leads them to Dan's apartment.

At Dan't apartment, Judd runs into GC Peacekeepers. He says something along the lines of "I wanted to see where the crazy religious nutter lived" and the GC let him by. Judd searches around but then leaves. But after he leaves, he sees the light come on in Dan's apartment. Dun-Dun-Dun

So the GC Peacekeeper, who has been asking around about the whereabouts of the followers of Token Jew, removes his helmet revealing himself to be Chris Traickin complete with Super-Special-Awesome Zod-mark. Dun-Dun-Dun

Next chapter, everyone's all milling around the manly Chris Traickin who tells them about how he escaped from the GC. But Conrad is still suspicious. He points out that Traickin escaped rather easily from the GC (even though the YTF have easily escaped them on numerous occasions). When Vicki points out that he doesn't have any locust stings, Conrad's like, "Uh, how long has he been wearing that GC suit?" But Pete puts his arm around Traickin and says that they're taking him back to Illinois.

Nothing happens except that Pavel finally snuffs it. That is all.

So Vicki is traveling with Traickin and more and more, she starts to have her doubts. There's something funny about his Zod-mark and she can't help but notice the locusts trailing the van. Conrad makes plans to expose Traickin.

In New Babylon, Judd mourns for Pavel. He and Nada talk and they decide to go back to Dan's apartment to see what's going on.

Basically, Conrad's big plan to expose Chris Traickin involves him egging him on, asking why his Zod-mark looks so weird and daring him to go outside with all the locusts. Traickin responds by saying he never looked in a mirror so he doesn't know why his mark looks weird and he still wears the GC suit because he has a chronic fear of bugs even though they can't sting him.

Meanwhile, Judd and Nada steal some GC uniforms and go to Dan's apartment. But when they get there, Nada passes out, leaving us with a double cliffhanger for this week: we still don't know if Traickin's on the level and we don't know what Nada saw. I thought about doing another chapter, but it looks like quite a bit goes down in the next one, so I'll leave you be.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jailhouse Rocked

Okay, I'll try to hold off on talking about how bored I am. I'm sure you're all sick of that, but I can't make any guarantees. That said, onward to the snark.

So Judd has just heard that Nada went to the GC prison in order to get more information about her brother. The person she's visiting is Daniel Nieters, who was sent away for telling someone about God. The discussion about him refers to him as a "Judah-ite" which confuses me because it's the first time I've heard the term and no one bothers to explain it. Is this a backhanded way of saying that Dan was a Jewish convert, a member of the tribe of Judah? If that's the case, congratulations: Ellanjay have finally created a Jewish character who doesn't have a Jewy McJew kind of name.

Apparently Pavel's dad has managed to pull some strings to have the staff of the prison keep Nada in the waiting room until Judd comes, but frankly, I have to wonder what kind of prison system Nicky Alps is running here. Most dictatorships don't allow their imprisoned dissidents to receive visitors.

On the way there, Lionel lays into Judd.

“I have to tell you,” Lionel said, “I don’t like the way this is working.”
“I didn’t ask Nada to come,” Judd said.
“Didn’t say you did. But you’re encouraging her. She’s talking about marriage.”
“It’s crazy! You’re not ready for that.”
“Let’s talk later,” Judd said. “I have to get Nada out of there and try to get back to Pavel.”
Lionel stared out the window.
“What?” Judd said.
“When you want to shut people down you always say you want to talk later.”

Frankly in the interest of promoting more Ho Yay in the LB-verse, I'm going to assume that Lionel's so negative about Nada because he doesn't want competition for Judd's hand. But really? Judd not being ready for marriage? He is a legal adult at this point in the series. Can you blame him for wanting to get laid married before Zod takes that away for everyone?

So they finally meet up with Nada and Judd tells her to play it cool, just pretend to be an emotional teenage girl who wants to know more about her brother.

So they finally meet up with Dan, who is described as being swollen and bruised. Those of you who read my blog are probably thinking of the myriad occasions where the YTF ran into the GC and how they don't have so much as a bruise to show for it. The only one whose suffered any lasting damage is Butt Monkey aka Ryan. So kids who read these books: remember you only get hurt if you're a butt monkey or an NPC.

But Dan rather than directly answering the question, which is probably a smart thing to do when in the anti-Christ's custody, instead starts ranting like a crazy person. Before being hauled away, he shouts Matthew 7:7.

“ ‘Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.’ ”

Nada interprets this to mean that her brother became a believer. But so far, they're not saying for certain, a rare show of ambiguity in these books, though I'm certain they will eventually say whether or not her brother's saved or roasting on a spit.

The chapter ends with Pavel's heart monitor going flat and Judd shouting, "Do something!" I wish I could say I felt something about this character dying, but I reached on down to the bottom of my soul and I felt nothing. And I just made a joke that no one will get. Good times...

Next chapter, Omer apparently has one of those Super-Duper-Special-Awesome satellite phones the same as Buck. He offers to patch Vicki into Illinois so she can call her friends. Omer's mother shows up and begs him to stay, but he says he can't and that he'll leave after helping Vicki.

Next section, apparently Pavel isn't dead, yet. They somehow stabilized him and that's all I really have to say about that section. Again, I know nothing about Pavel except that he's sickly and a believer and therefore, I can't be expected to actually feel anything about this character.

Meanwhile at the schoolhouse, there's more discussion about Chris Traickin about how he overpowered the GC guards and escaped. The YTF are still pretty certain he's a rat, though they still haven't said why. The schoolhouse section ends with Charlie saying that he has a feeling that they need to pray for Vicki. Uh-oh, does this mean something remotely interesting and or exciting is about to happen?

Well if it is, it won't be in Vicki's section. Basically she talks with Omer's mother and Omer tells Vicki that he'll wake her once he's connected her to her friends. Me, I keep wondering what kind of phone tech do they have at this point that requires such a huge amount of work to connect with? Vicki thanked him and headed down the hall. I wish I knew for certain when this book was published. The eBook says 2011, but I'm fairly certain that only refers to the eBook, not the regular book.

In New Babylon, Pavel is well enough to speak and tells Judd that he believes that Zod is going to give him the ultimate healing or for those not versed in RTC-speak, kill him and send him to heaven. He tells Judd that Dan was trying to tell him something and to go to where Dan lives. I'm assuming he means where Dan used to live, because yeah, visiting a GC prison probably wasn't a smart move first time around and it wouldn't be smart second time around.

The chapter ends on a distinctively uninteresting note: Omer is still trying to hook Vicki up with no luck and he says that he'll give Zod another shot when he starts to feel better from the myriad locust stings he's suffered that makes him want to long for the sweet release of death but not be able to get it. If you're wondering, the book doesn't mention that last part: I thought I'd add it in as emphasis.

Also about the post title? Sorry but it is damn near impossible to think of titles for these things so I thought I'd go for a pun. Forgive me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Boring Through and Through

Okay since it seems Saturday evening works best for my posters, I thought we'd try it out. If it doesn't work out, let me know.

I recently rewatched the British movie Threads and it's got me thinking. Not only do Ellanjay utterly, utterly fail at describing the aftermath of even one of the myriad of disasters that hit Earth back to back, but it makes me wonder if Michael "Heckuva job" Brown was a fan of the Left Behind books. Maybe that was why he was so slow to react to Hurricane Katrina: after all, people couldn't possibly suffer much from a mere hurricane. Anyway to make this rambling short, watch Threads. It's a harrowing look at what would happen in the event of all-out nuclear war and succeeds where Ellanjay fails. I'd post a link to the Youtube video, but my computer is being fussy, so I can't. Just search for "Threads." It shouldn't be too hard to find.

Anyway, as always, nothing is really happening. I must apologize: I've since run out of ways to say this. Basically, the chapter begins with Vicki hiding in a cave. :yawn: :snore:

Meanwhile, there's more discussion about this guy named Chris Traickin, enough that makes me wish I'd read the wikipedia page about this series more closely so I'd know whether he'll actually have a part to play or if he'll just be mentioned a little before disappearing from the pages forever like so many other characters in this series.

Apparently Traickin initially supported Nicholae Carpathia, but later changed his mind calling him the "pied piper from Romania." He later participated in the militia uprising against Carpathia and from there disappears for a few months before showing up claiming to be a supporter of Token Jew. The YTF, in a rare display of intelligence, conclude that Traickin was a mole working on behalf of the GC and that his arrest was all play-acting. I really wish they could give more reason behind the YTF's deductions like was Traickin missing the all-important Zod-mark which is how they knew?

But their discussion of Traickin is interrupted when one of them notices gasoline dripping from the ceiling. They run upstairs and find that Janie has drenched herself and Melinda in gasoline and is preparing to light a match in order to make their suffering end. The YTF wrestle Janie to the ground and nothing happens.

There's a bit of nonsense about Pete being thought dead that I won't go into, suffice to say the next chapter opens with him returning safe and sound. I'm sorry to summarize so much, but like I've said before, nothing really happens. Left Behind: the kids may not be as bad as the adult version, but it also lacks the creepy sexual politics that made the adult version remotely interesting.

In New Babylon, Judd meets up with Nada who says she heard from a girl her brother dated, Kweesa Darjonelle, that her brother may have seen the light before being squished in the Wrath of the Lamb quake. I leave it to my faithful readers to try to parse out just what ethnicity Kweesa Darjonelle is supposed to be (a name like that in an Ellanjay novel is usually an attempt at an ethnic character). Judd basically tells Nada to be careful about trusting Kweesa and that's it.

I decided to throw in another chapter, just as an apology for the poor quality snark.

Judd is reading Kasim's computer diary and apparently Kasim was starting to become more and more aware of the gaps between Nicky's words and his actions.

The most interesting sections detailed the turmoil Kasim experienced when he wrote about Dan. “The more I see of the Global Community and the way they treat people,” Kasim wrote, “the more confused I get. They talk about tolerance, then threaten people if they visit the Ben-Judah Web site.

Kasim in his confusion, attempts to resolve his turmoil over whether to follow his parents or Nicky, by making a side-by-side list comparing the positives of both faiths. I tried to copy-paste from the eBook version so we could have fun mocking it, but was unable to. Suffice to say, Ellanjay can't even create decent strawman for his characters to knock over.

Vicki, meanwhile, is hanging in the underground Johnson City church meeting place teaching. They devote only one paragraph to her teaching.

Vicki went over the same information she had taught Carl Meninger when he was at the schoolhouse. She referred to the notes Lenore had typed for her, but as she went over the Scriptures, she found herself relying less on notes. Things Tsion Ben-Judah had said or written came back to her, and the people were amazed such a young woman could teach so well.

Frankly though I spot a breach of Ellanjay ethic here. Vicki's teaching a group of people some of whom are men. Aren't Ellanjay rabidly on the "Woman shouldn't have authority over a man" side? For shame...

But a man with a scraggly beard shows up asking what are they doing in his mother's house and Vicki's section ends there.

Next section we're in New Babylon and we finally get to see and hear what the EBOWF worship is like. Now Fred has already devoted many pages to explaining why the EBOWF is impossible, so I will spare you.

Judd slipped into the back pew of the Enigma Babylon One World Cathedral, not far from Pavel’s apartment. The church was a monument to every religion except Judaism and Christianity. There were statues of gods and goddesses, pictures of people on their knees before pieces of wood and stone, and framed speeches of Nicolae Carpathia. Since the attack of locusts, all services had been canceled, but the building was open to anyone. Huge stone archways stood a hundred feet above Judd’s head. Inscriptions were written on pillars throughout the sanctuary. The first said, “One world, one faith.” Another simply said, “Tolerance.” Still another read, “Strive for unity.”

Judd sits and listens to the SuperPope eeevil preach the most eeevil virtue of all, tolerance, which ends when the locusts attack.

Meanwhile, Vicki talks with the guy with the beard whose name is Omer. Omer tells Vicki if she promises not to tell anyone about him. If what I've told you didn't set off several warning klaxons, clearly you have no pulse.

In New Babylon, they decide to try to track down that person Kasim kept talking about, Dan, in order to find out whether Kasim converted or is currently experiencing hellfire, only to discover that Dan has been arrested for subversion and Nada's on her way to see him. Me, I'm too bored to continue, so I'll sign off for this week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Zod's Gun is Bigger

Again, sorry about last week. I hope someday to get on a more regular posting schedule. I was thinking of putting up a poll asking which day works better for my readers, Friday or Saturday, but then I decided I can just let y'all tell me in the comments.

Anyway, I feel I must apologize for misleading you. Apparently I was wrong about the number of kids staying behind at the school while Vicki and Pete go around the country. I'd like to say in my defense though that since only the core members of the YTF have any discernable personality traits, you can forgive me for losing track of the other members who have none. Anyway, the people at the school are Mark, Darrion, Tolan, Lenore, Melinda, Janie, and Charlie.

Basically Mark is baffled by the fact that Charlie wasn't stung by the demon locusts even though he's an unbeliever. One of the oft-heard questions in response to Ellanjay's theology is "What about the profoundly retarded?" and they do answer it, saying that if he was disabled, he would have been taken in the Rapture. I applaud them for trying to answer that conundrum even though letting the profoundly retarded raises a good deal more questions (like what about those living in the Amazon rainforest who have never heard of Christ or what about the Indians who died before Europeans came to the Americas?), but the answer they give to why Charlie was unstung really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Basically they conclude that Zod spared him because Charlie was close to accepting him (and eventually does at the end of the chapter), but if that's the case, then why not Melinda? As my faithful readers would recall, she too, was on the fence about this whole God thing, wanting to believe but at the same time, not wanting to treat God like some holy concierge whose job is to pull you out of trouble, which might I add is a healthier attitude towards God than demonstrated by the YTF. In fact, I'm sure my faithful readers will be able to point out that the explanation as to why Zod spared Charlie makes little if any sense.

So Judd and Lionel along with Sam and Nada are walking around New Babylon. Naturally, we only get a few sentences of description, so the gleaming city of the anti-Christ might as well be a strip mall in Dallas for all we know, but given Ellanjay's tin ear for writing, maybe I should be grateful.

There's really not much interesting going on, just a lot of walking around, but we do get this interesting statement from Lionel:

“I’d rather live in a tent than work for Nicolae Carpathia,” Lionel said.

I am pointing it out because it makes me wonder what he'd think of Our Buck and St. Rayford both of whom have cozy gigs working for the embodiment of all evil. Supposedly they're double agents or something martyrrific like that but we never actually see them do anything like see to it that important orders get "lost" in the tangled channels of bureaucracy or smuggle prisoners to freedom or anything remotely fitting the description of a double agent. Albert Goering and Oskar Schindler shake their heads in dismay.

Maybe you're tired of me picking apart one line over and over again, but I can't help but wonder if this is the Ghostwriter making an anonymous dig at Ellanjay's self-inserts. Can't say I blame them: Bucky and Rayford are definitely among the most loathsome of characters.

The section with Judd ends with him meeting up with Pavel who says that God is healing him.

As for what's going on with Vicki, not much really. She joins up with the other followers in the cave, who, recognizing her innate superiority because she's a main character, give her the floor and she speaks. Those of you who are dreading a long sermon, relax. Basically all she does is be passionate and sincere and say stuff that the believers already know: that they're in the middle of a great soul harvest.

Next chapter, we cut back to Judd and we get to hear Nicky Bvumba's speech, complete with fake CGI-ed locust, about the latest disaster. Naturally the YTF snigger about it the entire time and while I know I'm supposed to see Nicky Pare as the embodiment of all evil, he feels like a stuffed shirt, about as terrifying as wet cardboard painted lime green. It makes me think of Christopher Paolini's Eragon series in which there's constant talk about how eeevil the Big Bad, Galbatorix, is but he's hardly if ever on screen and hardly if ever really does anything. In fact, given that Nicky has managed to maintain the communications and food delivery infrastructure despite several acts of Zod back to back, I'm quite impressed with him.

Anyway, as you probably guessed about Nicky's speech, for a great orator, it's quite dull though it does contain several cases of Strawman Has A Point, for those into TV Tropes.

“We must not let a few bugs steal our commitment to our new world,” Nicolae continued. “There will be those who will say this is a sign from the heavens. We are bad people who need to be punished.
“I ask you, what kind of god would punish people for trying to do the best they can? We have survived many disasters. It is time to put aside this silly talk and move ahead.
“We hold our own destiny in our hands. Our plans of peace and rebuilding will continue. We will unite. I have plans for good for all citizens, and I will not rest until they become a reality.”

Again, twenty books in and Ellanjay still have yet to come up with a good answer to "How can Zod trying to kill us repeatedly be a sign of his love?"

Meanwhile, in the caves, a guy named Greg Sowers introduces himself and tells his conversion story about how he knew a lot of verses, even got ribbons for knowing so many, but didn't really know Zod. In his words:

“Knowing verses about God doesn’t make you a believer in him,” Greg said. “I fooled a lot of people. I’d live one way at school and with my friends, then clean up my act on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I even married the preacher’s daughter.”
“You’re kidding,” Vicki said.
Greg shook his head. “I used to sit with her dad and talk about the Bible till late at night. I could really talk about God, but I didn’t know him.”
“How did your wife find out you weren’t a true Christian?”
“She never did,” Greg said. “I was such a good liar. I’d come home late without an excuse and blame her for being suspicious.”

Can't help but wonder just how good a liar he could have been if his RTC wife couldn't pick up on the disconnect between his words and his actions, but then again, like all good RTC women, she probably just stayed in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, and didn't worry her silly little head with too many questions.

Greg shook his head. “I was mad at God. Cussed him out. Then I came to my senses. I didn’t have a choice. It was either ask God to forgive me or wind up following the devil’s guy.” Greg pointed to his forehead. “You can see what I chose.”

Y'know there's always option three: refuse to follow either because what's the point of following Zod if, like a tantrum-prone two-year-old, he can just change the rules in the middle of the game and make your life Hell just for funsies.

I can't help but think of the Harry Potter series. Harry ultimately defeats Voldemort, not because he's got a bigger, more powerful wand, but because Voldemort is so obsessed with power at any costs that he overlooks even greater forces like love. That's the trouble with the LB-verse: Zod doesn't win because he is fundamentally different from the anti-Christ and is able to use his devices against him; he wins because he has the bigger gun.

The chapter ends with Vick reading Revelation 9. Apparently the sixth judgment, the one where an army of 200 million on horses slaughter one-third of the population, is coming up. I know the whole horses thing is "Because the Bible says so!" but I can't help but wonder if the earth would even be able to field such a large army after several acts of Zod back-to-back.